Puppy is not our first dive into the pet pond. Before the kids and I moved in with the man of the house, we had pet mice. Why? Well, because it was cold and snowy one night and the kids wanted to go out and do something. My suggestion of “Hey, let’s go pick out a pet fish at Petco” (because Petco was right across the parking lot from us at the time) somehow turned into $50 in supplies and $9 in mice. Mice are cute. It’s fun to watch them run in their wheel and snuggle with each other and do other cute little mousy things. They actually turned out to be great pets. They were quiet, didn’t require too much maintenance, and the kids thought I was the greatest mom ever for falling for their hair-brained scheme. As will happen with all pets one day though, the kids had to learn a hard lesson about the circle of life.
One wintry evening, we came home from an exhausting day of work and school. I came inside, put down my purse/keys/shopping bag/kids’ art projects/coffee cup/Diet Coke/etc. and panicked as I spotted one of our beloved mice laying in the cage with 4 paws straight up in the air. Unfortunately, the reaper had come for poor Peter Parker (they were all named after Avengers) and the kids were within 30 seconds of witnessing the same horror I was currently staring at. So… I did what any Mother of the Year would do- I went to the mouse cage, grabbed Peter, and stuffed him into my coat pocket before the kids could see him. Oh my God there’s a dead mouse in my coat pocket. It was worth it though, because the kids were none the wiser. Keeping my Mother of the Year cool, I turned cartoons on the television and told the kids I was going to take something to the trash. With their attention fully absorbed by the offerings of PBS, I ran to the side of the house to plot my next move. Maybe he’s just sleeping, I thought to myself. I pulled him out of my pocket to check out my theory. Rigor mortise and green oozy stuff coming out of his mouth and butt assured me that his sleepy state was eternal. Oh God, now there is green oozy stuff in my coat pocket! I chucked the mouse into the trash can, said a quick Hail Mary, and went inside to put my coat into the washing machine. Operation Mouse Burial had been a success, but now I had to figure out my next move. How much time did I have left until my sweet angels discovered their missing rodent? Light bulb! Perhaps I could replace Peter with a look alike before the kids could notice. This step would require outside assistance, as the kids still aren’t old enough to be left home alone. I slipped into my bedroom, hid on the side of the bed, and called the guy I was dating at the time. The call went something like this:
Me (whispering): I have a problem.
Him: What is it?
Me (still whispering): There’s a dead mouse.
Him: Hang on I’ll be right there with my gun!
Me (yelling): What? Why?
Him: Well didn’t you say there was someone in your house?
Me (talking low, but panicked): No! I said there was a dead mouse.
Him: Okay? You scared me.
Me: Can you bring me another one?
Him: A mouse? How will I know which one to get?
Me: Bring me a brown one with little black and grey flecks in its fur.
Him: Okay, I’ll be there around 9.
Me: 9?!? That’s too late! Bedtime is at 8 and they’ll want to play with the mice before then.
Him: Well, that’s when I can get there.
Me: Oh crap, now what am I going to do?
Him: Well, you could be honest with them.
Me: But they’ll freak out.
Him: You’re going to have to deal with this eventually.
Me: Crap. You’re right. I’ve gotta go. I need to figure out what I’m going to tell them.
A few deep, cleansing breaths later, I’m back out into the living room, looking at the three little darlings whose hearts I am about to irreparably break. I start the conversation with, “Hey guys, we need to talk about something.” I give my best talk about how mice have short life spans and that Peter was a very happy mouse who likely just died of old age. They asked me about the conversion rate of mouse-to-human years (“I don’t know for sure, but it must be a lot since mice don’t live very long.”) and we had a nice group cry. When all was said and done, I asked them if they had any questions. The Shortest One said, “Is Peter in Heaven?” I told her that I’m sure that he was because he had been such a good little mouse. “In Mouse Heaven?” the boy asked. “Sure,” I replied. Then the Shortest One asked, “Mom, is Jesus in Mouse Heaven?” “I’m sure he is,” I said. “The regular Jesus or Mouse Jesus?” asked the Shortest One. “Are there different Jesuses for different creatures?’ I asked her. “Well, yeah,” she said. “Then I guess he is with Mouse Jesus.” At that point, I rushed off to make dinner, laughing all the way at the thought of Mouse Jesus with his tiny little crown of thorns.